Whether you are interested in history, extreme sports, nightlife or just lounging on a sunny beach, the Dominican Republic is the travel destination for you. Enjoy the merengue beat, talk baseball, ride the concho buses, go birdwatching and try to find some of the large American crocodiles that live there. Make sure that you take along some mosquito repellent with DEET, if you plan any excursions into the country, though, because dengue fever is rampant there.
The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with the nation of Haiti. Discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492, the island is rich with Spanish history and culture blended with the contributions of African former slaves and the original indigenous people of the island. Your plane will land at Santo Domingo, the capital city. While there, be sure to visit the Zona Colonial for a real view of this nation's Spanish history. One of the city's oldest streets, the Calle El Conde, is named in honor of th count who led the resistance against the British in the 1600s.
If, however, your interest is in natural history, Santo Domingo has options for you as well. The Acuario Nacional, open since 1990, is a large aquarium that overlooks the Caribbean Sea and is home to 250 species of marine animals. Los Tres Ojos are also fascinating. The underground Brujuelas River feeds the lakes that are at the bottom of this series of caves. It is a popular tourist attraction that you should not miss.
If you plan to be in the Dominican Republic on Christmas Eve, join with the faithful at midnight mass at the Catedral Primada de America, the earliest church in the hemisphere. Now recognized as a basilica, this cathedral was constructed between 1514 to 1546 using coral to build part of the facade. Christopher Columbus was buried here, but his remains were removed in 1922.
U.S. citizens need a passport to enter the Dominican Republic. It costs $10 to buy a visa which is also required but can be purchased on arrival. The island is vulnerable to hurricanes between June and October, which corresponds to the time when the average high temperature is 87 degrees F. It is cooler but still reaches average temperatures of 83 degrees F between November and April.
The United States Department of State recommends that visitors to the Dominican Republic do not drink the water. They also advice travelers to be prepared with mosquito repellents containing DEET, to prevent being bitten by insects carrying dengue fever. In the countryside, there is also a risk of contracting malaria which is also carried by mosquitoes. In addition, the State Department warns Americans who travel to the Dominican Republic to be alert against petty theft and street crime in the cities.
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